CLIR Issues Number 33
Trends Affecting the Space Required by Library Collections
by Judy Luther, Informed Strategies
What Users Are Telling Us: A Symposium
by Jerry George
New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive?
by Abby Smith
QUESTION: CAN LIBRARIES gain enough space through cooperative collection development with peer institutions and through developments in electronic publishing to accommodate collection growth in existing buildings?
This question was explored by the Tri-College Library Consortium, comprising Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges, all located in suburban Philadelphia. With the support of a planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Tri-Colleges learned that with their existing space they could accommodate collection growth in the short term with a combination of compact shelving, increased cooperation in acquisitions, and weeding of unused duplicates.
Space gains have already been realized in the libraries' reference areas through the use of databases, in government documents through consolidation of depository collections, and in periodicals through the transition to electronic journals. To realize substantial space gains, however, the libraries will have to address the book collections, which represent a significant portion of their holdings.
The planning grant enabled the Tri-Colleges to do an extensive analysis of their joint collections, conduct focus groups with faculty and students, and gain insights from studies commissioned on the state of electronic publishing. The Tri-Colleges used this information to define new models for collaboration in collection development and identify factors critical to their success.
Discoveries and Trends
The study identified emerging trends and prompted the Tri-Colleges to take action that may be relevant to all libraries addressing these issues. Among the major findings are the following:
The book as a technology will still be with us. Although science faculties are well served by e-journals, their colleagues in the humanities and social sciences rely more on book collections in print form.
- An analysis of the distribution of the Tri-Colleges book collection across disciplines revealed that 67 percent of the volumes were in the humanities, 21 percent in the social sciences, and 12 percent in sciences.
- Historical collections will be digitized slowly since most books are still under copyright. The process of obtaining rights adds to the cost of digitizing a book, regardless of whether the conversion is done by the Tri-Colleges themselves or by a commercial vendor.
- Users do not like to read long passages on a monitor. Both faculty and students in focus groups noted that they print to read any document longer than two screens. Although current collections of e-books are used online for research purposes, the book in print form is still the best technology and the preferred format for extended use. E-book readers have not been widely adopted.
Better tools are needed for retrieving books. Publishers have digitized journals before digitizing books, and the development of tools to retrieve books has lagged behind the development of tools used for journals. Indexing and abstracting databases are used to find articles, but books are typically found by searching the online public access catalog (OPAC) or by browsing the shelves.
- Increasingly, books are retrieved from a remote location, such as a nearby library or off-site storage, or through interlibrary loan. More than a quarter of the books circulated within the Tri-Colleges come from one of the other two campuses. The rate of borrowing among the three colleges has grown steadily since the introduction of a shared system 11 years ago.
- New standards and technology reduce the time and cost of borrowing books within a consortium. For example, since the establishment of the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium (PALCI), the number of books borrowed within the state has increased for member libraries. Half of the books borrowed through PALCI by Tri-College patrons were by undergraduate students who appreciated the ease of initiating the loan request and the speed of delivery. Books delivered through PALCI typically arrive in three days, rather than the ten days needed for a conventional interlibrary loan.
- The OPAC provides only basic data on a book (i.e., author, title, publisher, notes, physical description) and that is usually insufficient for the user to determine the book's usefulness. Standards are being developed for including expanded metadata (e.g., the table of contents, book reviews, author's biodata, and sample pages) in the OPAC.
- The OPAC needs to imitate the experience of shelf browsing and display a list of the books that would appear on the shelf next to those books identified in the search results. Students expressed surprise when they found books on the shelf that they had not identified during their OPAC search.
One way to increase space is to store rarely used items off-site. In considering this option the Tri-Colleges faced a paradox—namely, if they scanned the tables of contents of materials before moving them off-site, students would have better access to information about the contents of books moved off-site than to information about the books that remained in the library. However, once additional metadata are available in the OPAC on books, users will be able to browse online, and the time needed to deliver a book becomes more important than its location.
Actions and Plans
The planning grant task force developed new models to support the vision of having one shared collection on three campuses. This encompassed the following processes of acquiring new materials and collectively weeding unused material:
- Developing a single approval plan for the three colleges. This involves working with book vendors to create a "virtual approval shelf" so books can be reviewed remotely;
- Reorganizing the way in which collection development is handled. This may require assigning staff to work with faculty in a single subject area on all three campuses;
- Weeding unused or duplicate material. Weeding requires engaging faculty members in decisions to ensure duplication where it is needed.
- Providing new space for media, teaching, student study areas, and informal reading. Creating such areas requires additional space planning.
As a result of the planning grant, the Tri-Colleges are implementing changes that may produce the following benefits:
- Improved access to and use of their existing collections by incorporating more metadata on books in their shared OPAC;
- Increased collaboration in collection development, resulting in a broader mix of content;
- A greater understanding of the impact of electronic publishing on space planning; and
- A potential gain of several years of growth space for the collections, buying time in which to monitor the development of electronic alternatives to print and postponing the implementation of more expensive solutions
The full findings of this report are available on CLIR's Web site at http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub115abst.html.
AS LIBRARIES, PUBLISHERS, and other information providers try to understand how information use is affecting them in the digital era, user studies are proliferating. What are these studies revealing?
Seven speakers participating in a recent symposium entitled "What Our Users Are Telling Us" provided some interesting answers to this question. Organized by CLIR, the event was held in Washington, D.C., on March 28. The meeting was one of a series of annual Sponsors' Symposiums for representatives of libraries and other institutions that provide financial assistance to CLIR.
Users are telling us things that sometimes differ from expectations, said John Horrigan, senior research specialist at the Pew Charitable Trust's Internet and American Life Project. Horrigan drew on polling data to describe the Internet's impact on American life. Fears that Internet use might isolate people or constrict social relations appear to be unfounded, he said. Instead, people are using the Internet to stay more closely in touch with family and friends, to discover support groups and community organizations with which to get involved, and "to add to social connections without subtracting from other modes of interaction." Quick access via the Internet may be freeing time rather than consuming it, Horrigan noted; this is particularly true for broadband users. Moreover, people use Internet contact for "serious content"—sharing worries, seeking advice, getting closer to government, and even challenging their physicians. However, although 150 million Americans now have Internet access, a "digital divide" excludes people with low incomes and little education from the benefits that information technology can offer.
What do studies show about users on our campuses? A report on a survey of students and faculty at colleges and universities across the country came from Amy Friedlander, special projects associate at CLIR. The Digital Library Federation and Outsell, Inc., a private research firm, produced the report, entitled Dimensions and Use of the Scholarly Information Environment. It showed, said Friedlander, that print survives and "the library is still loved." At the same time, the Internet has changed the way people work, and we now have a "hybrid and complex environment." New digital information sources should be seen "not as substitutions but as additive and synergistic," she suggested. The survey revealed that campus users generally prefer not to ask librarians for help in locating and evaluating information; however, students are more likely than faculty to ask for help, and all groups request librarians' assistance when seeking unfamiliar material such as visual resources. "There is a role in the technologically driven environment for librarians as mentors and generalists," Friedlander said. She used the data to show that undergraduate students who have not yet declared a major are the most likely students to seek assistance from a librarian.
Among librarians who are asking users about their needs is Colleen Cook at Texas A&M University. Ms. Cook reported on interviews with users about quality in library service, conducted for LibQUAL+TM. Respondents valued the library as a special, credible place, and wanted it to retain "a human dimension." At the same time, they were intent on maintaining personal control by seeking "a kind of privacy from librarian help." Also, respondents valued easy access to information. In their view, "content and access are meshed together"; if something isn't online, it isn't there.
Eileen Hitchingham, dean of university libraries at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, noted that "changes are so fast that we survey regularly." Survey results have led her library to consolidate reference stations, look for ways to make library facilities more inviting, and take note of users' qualms about off-site storage. The volume of circulating material continues at an even level, but students prefer "Googling" to using search tools in the library's online catalogs. Concluded Hitchingham, if one puts users rather than the library at the center, one sees that many resources are revolving around today's information seekers.
Agreeing that users often prefer Google searches to online catalogs, RLG is building a research service for undergraduates that will work like Google. RLG Program Officer G?nter Waibel reported that RLG is expanding its focus beyond libraries "to the cultural heritage community at large." The development of RLG's Cultural Materials Initiative is guided by end-user testing. Undergraduate information seekers want everything in one online package, he said. If they can't "skip the library altogether," they want resources to be available locally rather than through interlibrary loan. They prefer browsing to searching as a way to get into online data, and they value organized results from search queries rather than "long hit lists." Moreover, undergraduates don't trust online reviews of resources by other students. They see the online community as "a place to go get data and get out." They are interested in services that libraries can provide, however, and information providers must "try harder to listen to them."
Providers who try to listen include publishers, according to Christopher McKenzie, director of sales for Wiley InterScience. In user-group meetings, he found that people are looking for high-quality, reliable content that is easy to use. They want around-the-clock access from wherever they are working. They do not like narrow information-provider sites or access barriers, such as needing multiple clicks to find something, being unable to access a text, or having to ask help from a librarian. Most of all, they want all information to be free and accessible from a single starting place. "Google-plus-everything would be ideal," McKenzie said, and "more, more, more, faster, faster, faster."
Carol Tenopir, professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, closed the symposium with a presentation whose title bore a gentle warning: "Too Many Studies, Too Few Consistent Conclusions: Proceed with Caution." On the basis of a study she has begun of user studies in general, she advised librarians to employ multiple methods to learn from information users and to "try to explain the why of what they say and do." CLIR will publish the results of Ms. Tenopir's study later this year.
PowerPoint slides for each speaker's presentation are available on CLIR's Web site at http://www.clir.org/pubs/archives/symp2003PPT.html.
ANNA LASOTA, a graduate student in Library and Information Studies at the University of Kentucky, has been named the first recipient of the Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship. The award, which CLIR instituted last year with a grant from Mathilde and Howard Rovelstad, provides travel funds for a student of library and information science to attend the annual meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). This year's meeting will be held in Berlin.
Ms. Lasota has a special interest in the use of Internet technologies to enhance access to information on a global scale. "In these days of terrorism, aggression, and increased nationalistic and insular tendencies," she notes, "I still believe that open communication and dialogue can sustain world peace and help to build democratic, just societies where citizens are allowed to grow, learn, prosper, and recognize their similarities, while celebrating their differences."
Ms. Lasota was born in Poland and has lived, studied, and worked in several countries with a wide variety of cultures. In her application, she wrote, "My work in libraries before entering the graduate program at the [University of Kentucky] has made me appreciate libraries as vibrant, active components of community life; as open, culturally diverse places where one can work in an atmosphere of tolerance and helpfulness. I realize that unobstructed access and the free flow of information is a key factor in the success of the individual and, in broader terms, the society and the world community at large. Access to information is access to knowledge: a vital tool, even more so in modern times, where the Internet has had such a tremendous and multifaceted impact on almost every aspect of our lives.
" . . . The idea of a scientist in the Ukraine procuring needed information for his research, or a teacher in India communicating with a faraway library in Minnesota to enrich the curriculum offered to her students, or a rural doctor in Uruguay swiftly obtaining urgently needed medical information from the National Library of Medicine to help a patient—these, to me, are true manifestations of global information provision.
"But that cannot happen unless there is a cooperative effort in the international library community. There are so many factors and issues to consider, and obstacles to overcome. I hope that if awarded the scholarship, I would be able to gather valuable information, make useful professional contacts, and learn more about the realities and possibilities of such an endeavor, and, hopefully, put it to use soon in my librarianship career. I believe that the future holds exciting prospects in that arena. The Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship would greatly help me to pursue these goals."
THE INTERNET HAS transformed the way in which scholarship is produced and disseminated, most notably in the sciences. Digital technologies for scholarly research, analysis, communication, and teaching have been adopted more slowly in the humanities and social sciences, but there has been much innovation in these fields as well. Libraries and special collecting institutions are concerned about how to acquire, preserve, and make accessible some of the digital content coming from historians, literary scholars, and other humanists, as well as the primary sources in digital format on which this scholarship is based.
Libraries face many challenges in ensuring long-term access to the "new-model scholarship" that is born digital. This includes the variety of Web sites and other desktop digital objects created on campuses that fall somewhere short of "published" but are worthy of access in the future. Humanists pose a special problem: they are adopting digital technologies to create complex, often idiosyncratic digital objects that are in many ways more challenging to preserve than scientific literature.
A new report from CLIR, entitled New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive?, explores the following types of emerging scholarship:
- experimental: designed to develop and model a methodology for generating recorded information about a historical event or an academic discipline that might otherwise go undocumented. The History of Recent Science and Technology program at the Dibner Institute has initiated several projects of this nature.
- open-ended: generates digital objects that are intended to be added over time. An example is George Mason University's 9/11 Project.
- interactive: gathers content through dynamic interactions among the participants. The creators intend that the interactions, as well as the content, are part of what is to be preserved. The Dibner Institute's Physics of Scales project is an example.
- software-intensive: stipulates that the tools for using the data are as important to preserve as is the content. The variety of software needed to render dynamic three-dimensional models in the University of Virginia's Monuments and Dust project illustrates the importance of preserving such tools.
- multimedia: creates information in a variety of genres—texts, time lines, images, audio, and video—and file formats. George Mason University's Center for New Media and History has developed several such sites for research and teaching.
- unpublished: designed to be used and disseminated through the Web, yet not destined to be published formally or submitted for peer review.
Libraries must determine what of this content has long-term value for teaching and research. They must define the parameters of objects that describe themselves as "open-ended" and "changing," decide what must be done to make a complex digital object ready to place in a repository, and determine how to support digital preservation over time.
Librarians, who are used to thinking about selecting and preserving content, must now work closely with creators to identify attributes of the resources that warrant preserving. This often entails preserving software as well as content. Many of the new resources were designed as experiments, and their creators neither expect nor want them to be kept forever. Nonetheless, if longevity is to be considered, it is important that creators work with librarians and archivists early on.
Several models of stewardship are emerging for resources that are worth preserving. They can be roughly divided into two organizational types.
Enterprise-based models take some responsibility for keeping information resources created by an institution or a discipline that are used primarily by that community. The University of California, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University are developing such repositories. Other enterprise-based models are seen in various academic disciplines as well as among commercial and nonprofit publishers. Few of these digital archives strive for long-term preservation as defined by librarians and archivists. Most of the emerging models for electronic publications serve other needs, such as lower-cost distribution of and access to scholarly journals.
Community-based models offer third-party preservation services to digital creators. None has developed so far to meet the needs of born-digital scholarship, but both JSTOR and the Internet Archive offer interesting models for future development.
Funders that support building digital resources, including federal funding agencies, do not require the deposit of data into trustworthy digital archives. This is a serious oversight that must be addressed. Equally serious is the lack of planning and action by the universities and other research institutions that support the creation of digital scholarship and are its primary consumers. Librarians, archivists, and digital scholars are well positioned to raise awareness of this impending crisis of information loss and to articulate the new roles and responsibilities to be assumed by each member of the research community that has an interest in the future of scholarship.
New-Model Scholarship is available online at http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub114abst.html. Print copies may be ordered through CLIR's Web site.
THIRTEEN GRADUATE STUDENTS have been chosen to receive awards this year under the Mellon Fellowship Program for Dissertation Research in the Humanities in Original Sources. CLIR administers the program, which is now in its second year.
The fellowships are intended to help graduate students in the humanities and related social science fields pursue research wherever relevant sources are available; gain skill and creativity in using primary source material in libraries, archives, museums, and related repositories; and provide suggestions to CLIR about how such source materials can be made more accessible and useful.
The fellowships carry stipends of up to $20,000 each to support dissertation research for periods of up to 12 months.
Department of English and Comparative Literature
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Dissertation Title: "English Child Custody Law and the Victorian Novel"
History (Soviet History)
University of Chicago
Dissertation Title: "From Prisoners to Miners: A Social History of Vorkuta, 1943-1964"
Dissertation Title: "Portal of the Skies: Music as Devotional Act in Early Modern Europe"
Department of History, Early American
Dissertation Title: "Comparative Family Ethnicity on the New York Borderlands, 1680-1800"
History Department, U.S. Women's and Gender History
Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Dissertation Title: "For Better or for Worse: Marriage Counseling, Gender, and Sexual Politics in the United States, 1945-1980"
University of California, Los Angeles
Dissertation Title: "Making Whiteness Sound: Country Music and the Racial Imagination in 20th Century America"
Department of Geography, Historical and Cultural Geography
University of Texas at Austin
Dissertation Title: "Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907"
Comparative Literature, Film Studies
Dissertation Title: "Creating A Witness: Film as Evidence in International War Crimes Tribunals"
History of Art; Medieval Art
Johns Hopkins University
Dissertation Title: "Re-presenting the Past: The Histoire ancienne jusqu'? C?sar in the Context of the Crusades"
History, Gender and Sexuality Studies, U.S. History
New York University
Dissertation Title: "Marketplace of Desire: Contested Space, Tourism, and Constructions of ?exual Deviance' in New Orleans, 1880-1920"
Department of History; Modern European History
University of California Los Angeles
Dissertation Title: "'The Weapon of Time': Constructing the Future in France, 1760-1800"
University of Chicago
Dissertation Title: "Sites of Lost Dwelling: The Figure of the Archaic City in the Discourses of Urban Design, 1940-70"
Department of Cultural Anthropology
Dissertation Title: "Imagining 'Turkey,' Creating a Nation: The Politics of Geography and State Formation in Eastern Anatolia, 1908-1938"
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